How Do It Do That?

We bought a new car today, which is quite an event in our household when you consider the average age of all our other cars is 19 years old.  This new car is bringing the average age down to fifteen years old.  More importantly we bought a car that get’s 47 miles to the gallon and can carry 4 tall people and a little bit of stuff.

I am anti-stuff and related to a couple of really tall people so it is just perfect.

But you know the part I like the best is the 47 miles per gallon.  Today we drove it out to Apex and when we got in the car it told me that we could go 330 miles on the amount of gas we had.  We drove about 50 miles and when we got home the car told me we could go 358 miles on the amount of gas we had.  I swear to the good lord above we did not stop and put a drop of gas in it.  Apparently driving it charged it up and not only got us there and back on nothing, but gave us some more energy.

Will wonders never cease?  I think about my paternal grandfather who kept a number of spiral bound notebooks as logs to track how much life he got out of everything he owned that had a battery.   When I was a teenager I would peruse these logs on his desk while I used the phone.  “Tractor log, Sunday 8/15/76- 14 minutes.  Monday 8/16/76 – 1 hour 23 minutes…  Flash Light log, Wednesday 8/12/76 3 minutes…” What in the world, I would think.

This car would really throw my grandfather off; then again it is already acting as it’s own log.  I could see him now, driving around even if he did not need to just so he could make more energy.

I think that there are some foods that are like this for our bodies.  Take celery.  Apparently it is so low in calories and takes so many calories to digest it that, by eating it you are losing weight.

I would love it if all the engineers who have figured out how to make car power from pressing on the brake (Don’t ask me, it is too complicated to explain.) would turn their attention to creating more foods that use up more calories by being eaten than are in them to begin with.

I’m keeping my own log to see if I can get more than 47 miles to the gallon.  I figure if I weigh a little less it will be easier for the car to carry me around, but given this whole newfangled world I could be wrong.  I don’t know how it does it, but I’m glad it does.

My Diet History

I was a kid when I got hooked on Sweet ‘n Low in my iced tea.  It has to be because I thought I needed to lose weight and not because I really loved that chemical taste.  At boarding school I tried any number of crazy ways to lose weight.  I can remember laughing with my friends over the book Dieter’s Guide to Weight Loss During Sex, which was perfectly safe for us since we were at an all-girls school.  We lamented that if only there were boys we could use up a lot more calories based on the books predictions.


In my twenties I went to Dr. Greene in Washington DC who had invented a liquid protein diet.  I got my skinniest drinking three foul tasting shakes a day and a cup of chicken broth at the same time as Oprah was doing Optifast.  When she came out on TV in her skinny Calvin Klein Jeans pulling that wagon of fat everyone asked me if that was what I had done.


Both Oprah and I had similar spectacular results and the same rebounding weight gain as soon as we both ate regular food again.  Dramatically limiting my caloric intake for five months really made my metabolism learn how to live efficiently on practically nothing.  As soon as I introduced pasta back in my life, even with just straight tomatoes as sauce my body reacted like it had entered nirvana and was never going to leave.  It grabbed weight back on as fast as possible fearing that I might enter that famine period again.


About ten years ago I became a Weight Watchers professional.  I lost the most weight I ever have before, basically because I was the fattest I had ever been.  I learned every point value of every food and could really maximize the system so I could eat as much as possible for the fewest points.  The one thing about Weight Watchers is that as a company they make money on selling you pre-packaged, processed food and in the end that was not very satisfying to my body.


So here I am again.  The good news is that I decided to lose weight well before I passed my previous high.  I still have all the Weight Watcher’s knowledge, as well as every other plan I have tried, so I have synthesized it together and found my new way is the easiest way to live.


I cut out almost all sugar and most flour.  I eat primarily fruits, vegetable, meats, eggs, cheese, milk and a little whole grain.  I don’t count, measure or weigh anything, but I try and use small plates and bowls and only have one serving.  I am mindful of my eating, but I don’t write down anything I eat unless I am writing a recipe.  I don’t eat after 8:00 most days.  I drink a lot of tea and water.  I go to my trainer to work out twice a week. Most importantly I write for just 20 minutes everyday on the blog and I try and laugh a lot.


Other than the writing the blog, I don’t think about eating as much as I ever did on or off a diet.  I am so much more concerned about what I am going to write than what I am going to eat that I spend my day listening to and watching people waiting to find some inspiration for the blog.


Don’t get me wrong, Food is still important to me.  I got up early on this Saturday morning and went to my church kitchen to cook for the lunch we will serve tomorrow.  I still want to make yummy things that make people happy.  I am just as happy to make them for others and not for myself.


Maybe it took me all my 51 years of trying every kind of diet to finally invent one for myself that could just be my way of eating and not a diet.  Only time will tell.

Let’s Change the Situation

One day when my daughter Carter was three, my husband had this conversation with our daughter.


“Carter, what would you like for breakfast?”


“Chips,” Carter replied.


Her daddy looked at her and in that I-want-a-different-answer parent voice said, “Carter, Chips are for lunch.”


Not picking up on his cue, Carter responds, “Well, I’ll have lunch then.”


Sometimes you just have to change the situation to fit the answer you want.


Last night I went to a wonderful event thrown by the Chef’s Academy to benefit the Food Bank.  It was a restaurant chef competition where four chef’s each made a dish and people paid for votes.


Jayson Boyers, the regional president of the Chef’s Academy and fellow Food Bank board member had a goal of raising enough money at the event to donate 100,000 meals to the Food Bank.


After hundreds of people enjoyed lots of good food, none of it being chips, and voted for their favorite dish, the money was totaled.  Jayson was not happy.  He was $5,000 away from his goal.  So what did Jayson do but change the situation.


As he came to the podium with a glum look on his face he apologized for the delay in announcing the winning chef.  Jayson told the giant crowd that he needed $5,000 more to reach his goal and that he himself would donate another $1,000 if he could get anyone else to contribute the remaining $4,000.


Quickly a number of people raised their hands and called out, “I’ll give you a thousand.”  “Me too.”  “I’ll give $2,000.”  The goal was reached — 100,000 meals for hungry neighbors.


Sometimes the answer is so simple even a three year old knows how to do it, when you want something you ask for it.  When you don’t get what you want on the first asking you ask for it a different way, but just keep asking.


So I will ask one more time.  I am trying to get pledges to the Food Bank of $1,000 for every pound I can lose by November 1.  Today I am at $627.75.  My goal is to try and raise $50,000.  If only I could lose 100 pounds I would exceed my goal, but right now I am on track to lose 50.


I could change my situation, but I think that no one would pay for me to cut off my arm in order to lose more weight.  I know so many of you have made generous pledges and thank you.  If you have not pledged please consider doing so, not for me, but for your hungry neighbors.  If you think you have pledged check the supporters tab and look for your name.  If you want to be included among the angels listed there click on the pledge tab.


I am changing my situation my losing weight, you can change the situation of many people by pledging today.

Roast Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash and Pecans


Exactly as advertised.  Nothing but these three ingredients and my ever-present Pam.  So good and fallish.


1 butternut squash – peeled, seeded and cubed

2 pints Brussels sprouts cut in half

1/3 cup pecans


Salt and Pepper


Pre heat the oven to 400º-convection — If you don’t have a convection oven heat oven to 425º.  Cover a cookie with foil and spray with Pam.

Spread out butternut squash out on foil in one layer and place in oven for about 25-30 mins.  The squash should start to get a little brown and will be fork tender.


Cover another cookie sheet with foil and spray with Pam and lay out the Brussels sprout halves on it.  Place in oven and roast about 20 minutes until the cut sides get a little brown.


Toast pecans in a fry pan on stove for 2 minutes, stirring.  Once toasted chop them in half.


Mix everything together once cooked and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

When you Eat, Move as Little as Possible

My first job out of college was selling mail opening and extracting machines.  Since it was not an item that the average person wanted I had a rather large territory, Delaware to North Carolina to cover, selling to major companies and banks.  This all meant I spent a lot of time in my car.  I think I knew every exit of I-95 and where all the pay phones were to give you a time period reference.


Spending so much time trying to get between one customer is Washington DC and another in Wilmington Delaware on the same day meant that I ended up eating a lot of meals in my car.  You really can’t call eating something from a drive through while going 65 miles per hour between two big trucks a meal.


Years later when I was a consultant for BT in the UK I was often on the train traveling from London to Bristol, or Manchester, Doncaster or Warrenton or any of the other lovely British cities I frequented, eating my breakfast in the restaurant car, which was still a car.  Although I was not doing the driving, I was usually working while I ate, especially if I was traveling alone.


All that mindless eating in cars was no way to be healthy.  First the food available to drivers should be limited to football playing fourteen-year-old boys who just can’t seem to consume enough calories no matter what.  The rest of us, and that really is most of the world, should just skip anything that is available to be passed out of a window.


The second thing is driving an actual car should take most of the brainpower we have.  Not that driving itself is so difficult, but watching for out for idiot drivers is a full time job.  If you are trying to dip some fries into a small container of ketchup while going 35 miles per hour in a 25 you quickly become one of those idiots you are supposed to be on the look out for.


The third thing about eating in your car is you are sure to spill something on yourself.  I know that the invention of straws has helped keep liquids in your cup or in your mouth, but I personally don’t drink hot drinks with straws, something about scalding the roof of my mouth I shy away from.  The telltale sign that someone was eating in their car is they have a stain on the upper thigh of their pants.  Women who have a stain on their breast area might not have spilled in the car, but it is a possibility.


Add all these things to the fact that eating as your secondary activity does not seem to register in your brain and thus your hunger department never gets the memo you have eaten, I made a rule for myself that I will not eat in the car.  I made this “rule” about nine years ago and for the most part have tried to follow it.  Granted I no longer have a traveling job and don’t commute anywhere, but I do feel like I became more conscious of my food when it really became a meal.


Now if I could just give up watching TV while I eat.  My worry is that if I stop in the middle of a show I really love I will just eat more quickly so I can find out who is not getting a rose.  None-the-less, I think sitting still is the best way to eat.

My Least Favorite Word

Many people have words they do not like.  I know many mothers who forbid their children to use the word “stupid.”   “Shut up” is another popular non-favorite with the pre-school crowd.  “Suck” probably tops the list for middle school mothers.


My least favorite words is “Plateau” as in “a state of little or no change following a period of activity of progress.”  Yeah, plateaus really suck.


I am in a stupid plateau and have been for the last three weeks.  It is normal for me to lose weight at a fairly good clip and then just skid to a halt.  I know this to be my normal, but come-on, shut up; I would like to reap some benefits from my hard work.


I am trying hard not to use all the bad words when I get on the scale in the morning and it is basically the same thing everyday.  I know this too shall change and that I have to keep at it.  I know that my body has caught on to the fact that I am not giving it as many calories to live on and it has said, “Whoa. We are going to go into that caveman, non-starvation mode and learn to live on what you are eating so as not to die.”


See I am one of those humans who should have been alive 500 years ago when the food supply was not so constant.  My body is brilliant at holding onto fat for just that time of year when food was scarce.  You naturally skinny people who need to eat constantly just to keep going, you would have never made it through one drought season, let alone a little old famine.


So if I seem a little more grouchy than usual it must mean that I am still stuck on this darn plateau.  But I know from experience that eventually I will walk off a cliff and drop a few more pounds.  If it doesn’t happen soon you might have to bleep out my whole blog.

What We Need is a Hormonal Traffic Signal

One night when my daughter was about night years old I heard her crying in her bed.  I quickly opened her bedroom door to see what was wrong and there I found her sitting up in bed sobbing uncontrollably.  “I don’t know whats wrong.  I just can’t stop crying,” she squeaked out.


Unfortunately I knew it was the beginning of the girl up and downs.  I looked her square in the face and said, “Oh honey, its just hormones.”


With the wisdom of a much older woman she asked between sobs, “Why do hormones always win?”  It was one of the greatest truths ever uttered and it came from a child who was yet to really understand how powerful those hormones really are.


I am in no way as astute when it comes to hormonal cycles as either my daughter, or my husband.  One of my husband’s best traits is being able to track with NASA quality preciseness when a hormonal swing is about to take place.  When I am beginning to act insane somehow even after all these decades of having hormones I do not immediately know the cause for my insanity, but my husband does.


It would be so helpful to me if he would just go ahead and erect a hormonal signal that would clue me in.  Green would mean all clear, Yellow would mean insanity was on it’s way and Red would give me a warning that my full on B%tch is here.


My daughter is still better than I am at reading the signals.  One day I got a tragic text from her about something that had gone terribly wrong at school that morning.  That triggered my hormonal reaction and worry.  By the time I got to school for afternoon pick-up I was a mess waiting for her.  As she got in the car I asked her if everything was all right and she said without a care in the world, “Oh yeah Mom, no problem.  It was just hormones.”  Disaster adverted, but just for her, my maternal hormonal reaction had yet to clear.


Not only do I want a traffic signal, but maybe even an indicator light right in the middle of every woman’s forehead, that way I would know if it was a good time to ask someone a huge favor, or perhaps I should just give her a piece of chocolate and wait for a green light day.


For me I would like the light system so when I want to eat something more than my “I’m being really good food” I could weigh whether I was really hungry or just hormonal.  Currently I figure out the hormonal part only after I have eaten something forbidden, which is just too late.


For now, I just feel sorry for my husband who lives with two women on opposite ends of the hormonal teeter-totter.  I don’t know how he does it, but thank God he does because otherwise I might never know what is going on with me.

Can I Lick the Yolk Off My Plate

When I was a kid my mother was “off duty” on Saturday mornings and my father, who us kids did not see much on the weekdays due to his long work commute, was in charge of us.  Back in the “olden days” of the 60’s and 70’s Saturdays were not the day parents drove their kids to various sports or arts activities, for me and my sisters it was the day that my Dad made us breakfast before we got in the car and went to do his errands with him before we were conscripted into child labor.


The breakfast was almost always the same thing.  A fried egg on toast cut into a tic-tac-toe board pattern.  It is still one of my favorite things to eat.  The little toast squares soaking up the runny yellow yolk, paired with one perfect bite of not crispy fried egg.  Today since I don’t eat toast often I am wishing that it were lady like to pick up my fried egg plate and lick the yolk, which lays languishing on it.  I have tried using a sliced tomato as my toast replacement and although it is a tasty is does not have the same absorbent qualities and plenty of delicious yolk goes to waste


The errands were almost always the same thing.  First we had to go to the liquor store to cash a check and sometimes buy liquor.  See, it was the days before ATM’s and 24 hour banking.  We almost always went to New Canaan Liquors for this chore since our town of Wilton was dry and New Canaan had more liquor stores per person than any other town.  Just for the record, New Canaan also had Silver Hill a really fancy dry-out place that movie stars used to come to when they had visited one too many of New Canaan’s 142 liquor stores.


The big woman who owned New Canaan liquors was a good marketer.  She always gave any kids that came in the store lollypops so we would beg our father to go back there to cash his check.  Liquor store loyalty started early in our family.


Once we were at the liquor store it was only steps to my father’s second most popular errand, a visit to Belcher’s the lawn mower and chain saw store.  Belcher’s was fine with us kids too, because they also sold bikes so we always got to sit on the newest Schwinn bikes as my father discussed the sharpening of one blade or another.


After Belcher’s we drove through the car wash and then back to Wilton to one of the two hardware stores in our town.  Hardware stores back then were like a cross between a small Home Depot and a down market William Sonoma because they sold everything from replacement screen to lobster pots.  There was always something fun to play with there while my father bought the needed supplies for us to work on the house as our afternoon activity.


The errands ended with a visit to the Village Market, Wilton’s grocery store that was way ahead of Whole Foods in the “If we prepare it, you will pay through the nose, but you will love it” way of selling food.


After the fun of errand time we knew we would have to pay by doing the chores my father had on his list for the afternoon.  Our most constant task was mowing and raking the grass as well as raking the leaves, but scraping paint off the 200 year old clapboards or crawling up on the roof to clean out the gutters was often included in the child labor department.  Although we did complain we never seemed to opt out of those Saturdays.


As mundane as those days sound it was what we lived for as kids.  Time with my Dad, the same food, the same errands, the same chores, but lots of time for him to tell us stories about his childhood and tell us the exciting things that were happening at work.  Oh how I miss mundane.

Nantucket Inspired Crab Cocktail


I’ve spent the last two weekends going to too many fun events while out of town.  That means too little lack of control over what I was eating, but lots of yummy ideas for new food.


I had lunch in Nantucket on the wharf with friends Susan and Jane and had a crab cocktail that was so good.  I don’t know what they put in theirs but here is my rendition of it.


For one serving


Lettuce cut into strips

2 T. Non-fat cream cheese

Couple of drops of milk

2t. Horseradish- divided in half

2 T. chili sauce

Couple of drops of limejuice

3 T. crabmeat


Mix the cream cheese, milk and half the horseradish together.  In a separate container mix the chili sauce, remaining horseradish and limejuice together (you could use pre-made cocktail sauce if you have it.)


In a ramekin or small jar, place all the lettuce, the cream cheese mixture, the cocktail sauce and top with the crabmeat.


To really guild the lily add some avocado cubes between the cream cheese and cocktail sauce layers.

Visit First, Text Last

Last night I had an acquaintance tell me that she loved reading my blog and that now she feels like she knows me as well as she does a very close friend.  She told me this as a cautionary tale because she said that someday she might be diagnosed with some horrible disease and she is going to call me up and tell me to get right over to her house to care for her children while she leaves home for treatment.


She is not the first person to tell me this.  Another acquaintance said she felt somewhat like a voyeur reading the blog since she really did not know me that well.


You people need to stop worrying.  If I write it and post it, you are allowed to read it.  People who know me will attest to the fact that I will talk to almost anyone about anything.  The fact that I am writing about losing weight, a subject almost no one wants to broach should be proof enough.


I am not an expert in much, but I do have a passion for making community, and I don’t mean community coffee.  I love meeting new people, finding common links, learning new things from them, introducing them to others, blah, blah, blah.


But in our Tweet first, Facebook second, text third, email fourth, call on the phone fifth, actually go see a person face-to-face last world it is harder and harder to actually become a community.  All this isolation communication has got to be contributing to our unhealthy lifestyles.


This is all rich coming from someone who is communicating to you through a blog.  I would greatly prefer you all to come and sit in my kitchen and let me talk to you and tell you stories there.  But since this community of readers is spread far and wide it makes it more impossible.


What these acquaintances that have some sort of guilt about reading my personal musings do not see is that, all you people who read the 500 words I write everyday, are acting as my collective therapist.  I don’t need to pay someone $250 an hour for me to tell him how screwed up I am.  I have you.  And if you recognize any hint of yourself in what I write maybe it helps you too.


Most of what I write is too true to make up.  It is my real life, crazy as it is.  Once in a while I do fabricate an example person so that I don’t out some actual horrible person.  My friend Mary Eileen and her family read the posting “It’s great not to get recognized” where I described a woman who always said, “Nice to meet you” even though we had met many times.  Mary Eileen said they sat around the dinner table saying they knew exactly who she was.  When she asked me I said, “OMG, is there really someone matching that terrible description?  I made her up.”


So if you are that person I described, I don’t know who you are.  If you recognize yourself in my postings you are not alone, you are just human.  It is OK if you feel like you know me; I have posted 136 blogs about my struggles and myself for the last 136 days.  Please know that you are my community.  If you want to come and sit in my kitchen you are welcome to do that.  I may blog, but in my world I go to visit someone first, call them on the phone second, e-mail them third, text fourth, Facebook fifth and almost never tweet.

Not the Smartest Person in the Room

Last night I attended a Trustee retreat where we had Dr. Gerald Bell, a leadership specialist as our guest speaker.  The organization I was there for is undergoing a long planned search for a new head and our speaker was there to help us prepare for our eventual change in leadership.  The group of about 25 people who attended last night is made up of people who are all much more brilliant than I am.  None-the-less the exercises we were put through appeared to be both eye opening and informative for almost everyone in the room.


Dr. Bell told us that when we were setting goals for our eventual new head we should use the S.M.A.R.T. system, An acronym not all of us knew.


SMART in goal setting stands for making goals that are

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – Resources

T – Timely


As I thought about my own goal setting I realized that once in a while I was using the SMART system, this weight loss challenge being a good example of that.  I have a specific goal of losing 50 pounds.  I can clearly measure it, as I get on the scale everyday.  It is attainable because it is a 25-week timeline and it is realistic to lose an average of two pounds a week.  I have the resources to do it because I actually use fewer resources by eating less. It is timely because there is no better time to get healthy.


Since I was not the smartest person in the room I would misspell it and call it SMAART. Personally, publicly announcing my intention to try and reach a goal is by far the best motivator for succeeding, therefore my newly added “A” would stand for Accountable.


It is amazing the amount of support I get from people because they know I am working on losing weight.  People are not afraid to talk with me about it because I write about it everyday.  My being out there gives people permission to talk about a subject that is often taboo.  No one is embarrassed to say, “You look like you’ve lost weight” because they know I am trying and not that I have some terrible illness which is causing me to get thinner.


At the end of program Dr. Bell challenged us to come up with 15 goals we wanted to personally attain in the next year.  He said that you needed to think of 15 because the best ones come at the end of your brainstorming after you have already written down all the easy ones.  Once we had thought of 15 we should pick 10.


I am going to do this and share them with my husband so I can be accountable to him.  If I don’t share them it would be very easy for that exercise to be just that, an exercise.  I’m sure you have goals, lists and wishes of things you would like to accomplish.  So join me in adding an extra “A” to being SMAART and be bold in your accountability.  You might find that extra push to finish what you started and even if you don’t, it is so much more fun to have others share in your journey.

My Failed One Bite Rule

Some years ago I lost a huge amount of weight, actually twice before this I have lost lots of weight, so this is my third time.  You naturally thin people often wonder why in the world I gain weight back after working so hard to lose it the first time.  Trust me, I ask myself the same thing.  Just as I am a self-taught expert on losing weight now, I am a self inflicted pro at gaining weight too.


My friend Maricella brought me an article from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal titled, “How to Fend Off a Food Craving.”  Google it to read the whole thing, but there was one paragraph I want to share with you and give you my learned opinion of…


“What is the best way to fight food cravings? Many studies have shown the more subjects try to restrict food, the more they may crave it.  So some experts suggest embracing and controlling the urge instead.”


I am here to attest that as a food addict this is not a technique that has ever worked for me.  In fact I have done a multi year study and proven the opposite.


I love sweets and the longer I go without sweets the easier it is for me to not crave them.  After four months of being off sugar I can be around cupcakes, smell brownies, even have a box of chocolate turtles on my counter that I have not looked at or craved.


The last time I lost a significant amount of weight I created what I thought was a brilliant way to deal with unhealthy foods.  I called it “the one bite rule.”  If I really wanted pasta I gave myself one-bite of it, the same with coconut cake, pizza etc.  But then the size of my “one bites” got a little larger, until I practically was using a serving spoon to gouge out my one bite of cheesecake.  Before I knew it, one bite gave way to three to right back to eating the amounts and the types of foods that my body clearly does not need.


So I would like to refute Mr. Murdoch’s crown jewel the Wall Street Journal and say don’t give into cravings, fight them.  The article does go on to say delaying, distracting yourself and exercise are all other ways of dealing with a craving.  Those are techniques I endorse.  In fact the article says smelling a strong smell such as “Jasmine helps occupy the same aroma receptors that are a key part of food cravings.”


Now I have a new scheme to start growing jasmine and selling whiffs of it as a food alternative, for a premium price. If it works I may be opening a jasmine smelling truck right near the next Food Truck Rodeo.

What to Make for a Church Luncheon?

Not that long ago I saw a news piece that said Protestants in America were the heaviest group when dividing America up by religion.  It is not really that important statistics because Americans in general are overweight and more American’s are Protestant than any other one group, so no news there.


The reporter went on to say that perhaps it was all the covered dish suppers that Church goers went to which were full of macaroni and cheese and hash brown casserole that was the reason Christians were so fat.  If you go to a place of worship are you having a meal there everyday?  Not at my church.  We may eat at church a couple times a year max.


My friend Sara and I are charged with providing an all-church lunch in 12 days.  We did this last year and served a top-your-own baked potato bar.  It satisfied many different constituents.  For Vegetarians we had broccoli and cheese, for vegans we had just broccoli, for meat lovers we had ham and for folks that don’t like much we had sour cream and butter.  What we did not have was any main course for dieters, just a green salad, not really a meal.  For the frugal the meal only cost about two dollars a person to make and that included a giant sheet cake from Sam’s.  Maybe there is something to that obesity tie to Church.


This year I want to make something that even I can eat, that will be easy to make, cheep to pay for and satisfy all they various eating groups.  So I am reaching out to you, the world of church and non-church goers for ideas for a lunch for about 200 people.


It is not that I can’t come up with a menu, but I figure that each of you might have attended a big event and thought, Wow, that was a good menu.  Tell me, tell me now.


One more thing, I don’t have much time to actually cook it.  Both Sara and I are busier than Santa’s elves two days before Christmas so we need to be able to shop and cook the whole thing on Saturday and serve it Sunday at noon.  So no whole pig ideas, ain’t got the time.


If we can come up with a healthy church meal perhaps we can stem the fat tide believers are riding.  Now that would be a Jesus worthy miracle.

No Grinding Please

I am no scientist, but my weight loss program is a study that is worthy of two Johns Hopkins researchers and one Richard Simmons. I eat a fairly steady diet everyday and about the same amount of exercise every week. I have cut out all real sugar, because sweets are my drug of choice and I hardly ever eat flour of any kind.

So in my vegetable, fruit and protein diet I have stumbled upon what I consider to be a major medical break through. Before I reveal my ironclad findings to you I must report that I have scoured the Internet and have not found any medical or anecdotal information that even mentions the discovery I have made. There can be many reasons for that. First, this food interaction may only effect me or other WASPs with my identical genetic make up, or secondly, this finding can be completely false.

I know by now you are dying to know what this break through discovery is in weight loss and I will not keep you in suspense any longer. I lose more weight if I eat a solid piece of meat as opposed to eating the exact same amount of ground meat.

Now before you say that I must be eating ground meat with more fat than say a solid piece of pork tenderloin let me give you some information on the controls I have used in my testing. First I have ground meat myself and eaten one dinner of ground beef and the next of a whole steak cut from the same larger piece of meat. I have also tried this with chicken, pork and beef.

If you are a scientist and know why my body processes the same basic food in different ways please let me and the rest of the world know. Some of my hypothesis are that by grinding meat we must turn it into a more soluble form so that more stays with me when I eat it. Perhaps I am a very poor chewer and I am swallowing such large chunks of meat that my body can’t break it down before it leaves me. Maybe meat is like corn on the cob and just goes in for the ride. Who knows.

After all my years of Weight Watchers lectures, diet doctor visits and Atkins books read I do no recall anyone ever saying don’t have the burger, but instead have the steak. So let me be the first to tell you. Like the whole grain craze that started some years ago I am going to be the whole meat guru. And when I say meat I mean meat, fish and poultry in their closest to life size you can get it.

I do not lose weight on days I eat only fruits and veg. So sorry all you vegans, I have no help for you. I am not advocating an Atkins/South Beach diet, just that when you do have a meal eat mostly veggies and some protein that is not ground, mashed, shredded or pulverized. Give your body something to do once you’ve swallowed and report your results back to me. If it works for more people than just me we are going to have to come up with a catchy name for this diet too. Suggestions are welcome.

A Cautionary Tale

It is no wonder that the Internet has made huge inroads in the fashion business because stores could hardly do a worse job of having great employees and creating spaces that make it easy, comfortable and attractive to try on clothes.

I hate to shop in stores. This is not a new thing. That is unless the store is run by the owner who has a vested interest in actually helping me, sells enough that the store is profitable so it does not have merchandise all crammed together and has beautiful dressing rooms, with someplace to sit down and most importantly great lighting.

One of the only bad things about dieting is that you have to buy some clothes to wear while going down, but you don’t want to buy many because the hope is you will shrink out of them. When changing sizes you really need to visit a store to see what fits so it makes Internet shopping out of the question. You see, the only thing I hate more than visiting a clothing store is having to go to my local post office to mail a package of wrong sized clothes back to the seller.

I am sure this hatred of shopping is genetic on my paternal side. My father told me of his childhood horror of going to Montaldo’s, the nicest woman’s store in Winston-Salem with his mother when he was five. He says he would go immediately to the circular ladies night gown rack and hide in the middle because my Grandmother would run out of patience about ten minutes into her visit and stamp her foot and in a loud, smoked-too-much, scratchy voice say, “Who is going to wait on me?”

As much as father claims it scared him, he too wants to be helped at stores, just as I do. I am almost worst than my Grandmother, which my relatives all know is a really high bar to hurdle.

One December years ago I was in a Gap-like store trying to buy Christmas presents. There was one main check-out desk manned by the only person who apparently could run the cash register. There were three other “sweater folders” working in the store who did not ever proactively interact with the customers. Their sole purpose was to fold and refold clothes so the store always looked perfect, not so they actually helped sell something.

I had single handedly found four items to buy as presents and went up to the desk to pay. I was third in a line of six people all trying to keep our Christmas cheer while waiting an endless amount of time to give these people our money for the over-priced items and get the hell out of there.

Even though there appeared to be three cash registers and four employees, only the one who passed fifth grade math was allowed to use it. As I became the next customer to be checked-out the phone rang. Right in the middle of scanning my items the clerk helping me stopped, answered the phone, talked for at least a minute to the person on the phone and then, laying the receiver on the counter walked away from the register and me, money in hand.

“Wait,” I called out, the genetic twin of my Grandmother, “Can’t one of the sweater folders help the person on the phone and you keep ringing me out?”. The bored clerk, who was making the same amount of money whether they had any customers or not replied, “No.”

Quickly realizing I was about to be left I said, “The person on the phone is only inquiring about possibly spending money in your store. I am actually trying to spend money here. Please finish with me first.”

As the clerk slowly sauntered off to the back of the store she said, “The phone takes priority.”

This is when I am glad I do not carry a weapon, instead I carry a big mouth and a short temper. I did the only thing I could do at that moment. Turning to the other, much too patient, customers who were waiting behind me I said, “This store is not interested in us or our business, I suggest you leave with me now.”

I felt very empowered as two of the three other customers dumped their items on the front desk in a heap for the sweater folders to restock and walked out into the mall with me.

It was a real pain-in-the-ass because I had to do more shopping to find replacement gifts for the ones I did not buy there, but I was damned if I would patronize such an idiotic store again.

So this post is a cautionary warning that if you see me out about town and I’m naked, I have not lost my mind, I just did not have any clothes that fit and I could not bring myself to enter another store.

Nantucket Memories

I am writing today from a deck chair on the porch of a house in Nantucket that my friends Rich and Susan have rented for the week. Rich is my oldest friend, having known each other since he was four and I was five as well as being my husband’s business partner. Rich is kind of like my brother as well as my husband’s work spouse.
They know each other so well that they often show up for events dressed in matching outfits.

This morning Russ and I went into town before Rich and Susan. Russ bought himself a pair of Nantucket Red shorts and decided to wear them out of the store. Rich had been wearing his Nantucket Reds when we left the house, but when they joined us in town he had changed into khaki’s and a blue shirt. I noted that for once they were not matching. Rich’s response was he knew that Russ would not only buy the shorts, but that he would wear them so he changed so they would not match. Now that is a friend who knows you well.

We are all in Nantucket together for a business meeting that starts tomorrow evening, but until then we are enjoying a little vacation. Since we have been here many times before, my first time as a teenager with Rich’s family and again as the first vacation Russ and I took Carter on when she was just five months old, we are spending time reminiscing between either planning where and what to eat or actually eating.

We went to the Wauwinet Inn for lunch and ran into CBS Sunday Morning corespondent Bill Geist and his wife Jody whom I had flown in from Boston with. Jody and I had sat with each other on the tiny plane and talked the whole time so she was happy to meet Russ. She remembered his name since it is the same name as her daughter’s new son. They were here for a wedding and encouraged us to crash it or any of the other 43 weddings Bill said were on the island this weekend. We said we had a good dinner reservation so we would have to crash during the dancing.

I don’t know how people went on vacation before the Internet. I sit here listening to Russ and Rich discuss the ratings and menu’s of various restaurants and try and balance out the offerings versus what they have planned for the next day’s meals. If we go to Galley Beach do they have enough meat when we are going to seafood tonight, or if we go to Langedoc is it too fancy? So many decisions to be made.

This is not a new travel activity. I can remember being on vacation as a child with my parents and having my mother get furious with my father because he wanted to discuss lunch and dinner while eating breakfast. As Rich said earlier we just need to find things to do between meals since they are the big highlight of the day.

And there you have it. What to do when not eating and how do you make food less important when you are on vacation? I have decided that the best thing to do is try and eat at regular times, never waiting too long between meals so that I am not so hungry that I make bad decisions and that, when possible, I split dishes with anyone who will do that with me, even if it the diner at the next table.

One of the joys of travel is learning about and enjoying local cuisine but that does not mean sampling island fudge or giant slabs of coffee cake, but raw oysters and steamed lobster is just the thing to splurge on, if only with money and not with calories.

In the moments I have written this the sun has dipped below the tops of the scrub trees, bringing on the cool air that I have not felt for months. The setting sun must indicate that soon it will be time to prepare for dinner and another meal with great friends and new memories to add to our lifetime of Nantucket times together.

Being At Other People’s Mercy

I hate being at other people’s mercy. I like to be the driver, the planner, the get-it-done-myselfer and in the words of someone I never quote, the decider. It is not necessarily an attractive quality and one that I try and mask to the outside world very unsuccessfully.

This week all my masking skills failed me when in the space of two days I was tested over and over again.

The first situation came at 10:00 the night before a surprise birthday party I was throwing with some friends. I was in charge of the restaurant and menu. Coconut cake was featured in the invitation and was expected. I had gone to the restaurant weeks in advance and reserved the space and the cake.

The manager told me to email him the exact menu a week ahead, which of course I did. I called him the next day to confirm his receipt of my detailed instructions. He was not in so I requested he call me back. The next day no call back. I phoned him, not in, no call back. And again. Then I went away for the weekend.

Upon my return home I had to cook for the clothing show at my house, reconnect with my 13 year old daughter who almost did not realize that her father and I had been away for three days and do all the laundry from our hot weekend where we changed our clothes four times a day.

As I fell into bed dead tired after the clothing show and started thinking about the next day’s party it dawned on me that I had never heard from the restaurant manager. In a panic I picked up the phone and called them and asked for him by name. I felt as if I was going to throw up when I was told that he was not in and would not be in until Friday, two days after my party.

The poor man who answered the phone. I went into full on bitch and asked who was in charge at that very moment. Another manager came to the phone and I begged him to tell me that he knew all about the party, the email for the menu and more importantly the coconut cake. NO. He knew nothing about it. We worked out the menu, and he thought he might have enough staff, but the cake was going to be a problem. He only had half as much as I needed!

It eventually worked out, but not until I completely micromanaged the staff, bussed plates, poured drinks and cut the cake slices myself, serving the skinniest of servings. In the end the birthday girl was completely surprised, celebrated and happy.

My second pain-in-the-ass event this week was my call with a national phone company I won’t out here. We have way too many phone lines for a family of three. Three months ago I gave up long distance service on one of the six lines, I told you it was too many. Somehow I inadvertently kept paying on the account of the line I gave up and not on one of the lines I still had.

I was receiving automated calls from this rotten phone company saying that I needed to call them about my phone line. Since I had been sending them more than enough money I assumed they wanted me to call them so they could sell me something, so I never called them back.

It was not until I received a letter saying they were going to cut off my long distance that I realized there was a problem. It took 15 phone calls to figure out that they had my money in one department, but would not transfer it to the correct department until I sent them a FAX, and even then it would take two weeks.

What century is this company in, a FAX! When I asked the poor customer service rep why in the world they had not alerted me that I was sending them money for an account which had been closed months ago he was silent for a whole minute. When I said, “Well?” His response was, honest to god, “I’m trying to think of a good excuse.”

Even after that admittance of guilt he could not transfer my credit, nor could he refund me without a fax. When I asked if I could send an email, the answer was no. “We can’t take your word over the phone that you are who you say you are and we need a paper trail.”

I could just as easily impersonate myself by fax as by phone and since when was email not a paper trail? I just imagine that fax I sent falling on the floor and rolling under the fax table because it is still printed on slick continuous fax paper of 1988.

I write this as I sit at the airport at the mercy of an airline, no surprise there. My 11:45 flight is not taking off until 1:15 now it is yet to be seen if I will make my connection on a tiny 12 seat prop plane. I would love to know what my normally low blood pressure is now.

The good news is that I did not turn to eating as the way to deal with my frustrations, instead I turn to ranting via blog. Blogging now an official diet tool for me. So thank you to all you unknown readers I imagine I am complaining to. I know I am still at the mercy of others, but at least I hope you have gotten a chuckle out of my frustrations and you have a stress free weekend.

Roasted Pears – Master Recipe


Roasted pears can be used for good, like in a fall salad with grilled chicken and a little blue cheese, or used for evil like in this pizza I made for Russ.


I like to buy a bunch of pears and roast them to keep in the fridge.  Once roasted, they will last a couple weeks in an airtight container.





Preheat oven to 425º.


Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray with Pam.  This is very important because the pears will stick without the foil.


Slice the pears into ¼ inch slices and lay them flat on the cookie sheet.  They can touch, but not overlap.  Spray the pears with Pam and place in the oven.  Cook for about 30 minutes and turn the oven off and leave them in another 15 minutes.


For those of you who can afford to eat the pizza here is how I made it.  I just bought pizza dough at the store and stretched it out and pre-cooked it on the grill by heating the grill up to very hot and lay to dough directly on the metal grill closing the lid and cooking it for 3 minutes and flipping it over and cooking for a minute and a half on the other.


I lay the following on top of the cooked crust- roasted pears, caramelized onions, a little mozzarella and blue cheese.  Then put in a 400º oven until the cheese melts.  The pizza is great served with a little arugula salad on top.

Measuring Methods


There are lots of ways that I measure my progress in the weight loss journey; the scale is the obvious one, but the more obscure ways are so much more fun.   In descending order of obvious ways here are some measurement tools that I have come across.


Following a very close second to the scale are clothes.  How do my clothes fit and how many smaller sizes am I able to wear.  Almost more importantly how many clothes should I not be wearing because they are just too big?  There is nothing more comfortable than a pair of jeans that feel like pajamas because you swim in them.  But having your clothes feel that great usually means they are too big to be worn outside of your house.


The worst thing for me is when losing weight I find an old beloved pair of pants in my closet that I have not been able to fit into for a while and put them on only to discover that I have missed my opportunity to wear them because I am smaller than those pants now.  OK, that is not the worst thing, but with limited clothing choices I wish I had found those pants earlier.


Chairs with arms are another great barometer of skinny success.  The other day I sat down in a chair and was unable to have both my elbows on the arms of the chair comfortably because they were too far apart.  I found I had to put my purse in the seat next to me to rest my arm on.  I can’t remember the last time I sat next to my purse in a chair.


Another pair of arms I use for measurement are those of my husband.  It is wonderful to dance with him and have him be able to wrap his arms around me and dip me.  Now if we could do something about rhythm.


Our king size bed is looking much larger these days.  As I lie on my side writing this blog I can no longer reach out and pet our dog sleeping on the opposite corner.


My favorite new measurement marker is that I got in my car the other day and I could not really reach the steering wheel.  I had to move the seat forward because I must have lost enough off the backside of me thus falling further away from the wheel.


I have to keep all these measuring apparatus in mind in case I start to go the other way.  If I find I have to move the seat back there are no excuses that the washer shrunk my car.  What goes down can go back up; even though that is not exactly the law of nature it certainly is the law of weight management.

Great Closet Advice

Today my friend Hannah and her business partner Suzanne had their Doncaster show at my house and are donating 10% of all their sales to the Food Bank.  Thanks to all the wonderful ladies who came out, stripped down and decided they had to have a new skirt, sweater or suit.


I heard lots of funny and useful information about people’s clothing and closets while they pondered between the lilac and the olive sweaters.  One friend, Kathi, found a couple of pieces of clothing that looked great on her, which was no surprise because everything looks great on her.  She said that she could not buy them right there and then because first she had to go home and see if she already had anything like them and find an equal number of things to weed out of her closet before she added anything new.


WOW!  What a concept.  She says she only needs so much and this way everything she keeps is up-to-date and in great condition.  “How many black shoes does a person need?” she said.


I don’t know about you, but most women tend to buy the same thing over and over again, because that is what they are drawn to at the store.  I have friends who only wear one color, say black, or taupe, you know who you are, which is great because that is what they look good in.  But if you are only going to buy one color, how many multiples of the same items do you need?


I remember when a friend built a new house, she was showing us her closet and she said, “Here is the dress hanging section and the shirt hanging section and the shoe section and the black pants section.”


Kathi’s plan of only having one of anything works for her because she has remained the same size for her whole adult life.  Kudos to her for that hard job, but it does make closet management easier.


Another friend Lucy asked us if we had ever seen the “Home Improvement” episode where Tim Allen built his wife her dream closet.  She described what was needed in a dream closet, “A place for thin clothes, fat clothes and the just five fewer pounds clothes.”  Tim then holds up a tiny slinky dress and asks his wife, “What section would this go in?  The In-Your-Dreams-Section?”


I remember once my mother, who hates to ever part with any of her clothes, tried to do a weeding out.  I happened to come to visit her after she had spent three days removing every item of clothing and trying it on and deciding if it should go in the keep, donate or throw pile.  I walked in the door and was horrified to see she was wearing a 30 year old L.L. Bean wrap around skirt that did not quite meet the wrapping minimum, paired with a thread bare Shetland sweater which had been my sister Janet’s in boarding school that was at least three inches too short for my mother.  As she tugged on the front of the too short sweater she said with a big grin, “Look at these great clothes I found.”  Great has a different meaning for my mother and me.


When I asked if that was representative of the things she was keeping what in the world was she throwing away or donating.  That was when she pointed to three ratty t-shirts on the dining room table that I had thought were dust rags and said, “I’m giving those away.”


I am going to try and break any genetic connection I have to my mother when it comes to my closet and somehow become adopted by Kathi.  I am embracing the nothing-new-in-the-closet-until-something-old-comes-out rule and I will make sure that I am not purchasing a duplicate item unless I have worn out or ruined the first one.  Now, if I could just do something about the In-Your-Dreams-Section.

Doncaster Flash Backs

When I was a kid both my Grandmother and my mother sold Doncaster clothes.  In fact, my grandmother was the East Tennessee Regional manager for 35 years and when she retired at the age of 80 someone else had the opportunity to be the oldest employee, a title she had held for at least ten years.


I was about ten or eleven when my mother started selling.  Four times a year I would come home from school and there would be half naked women trying on clothes in our playroom.  I always loved playing store with my sister when the clothes were at our house.


Well some things never change.  My good friend Hannah and her partner Suzanne are selling Doncaster now and they brought the clothes to my house this evening so that all out Durham friends could come and shop here.  They have some really gorgeous stuff that I am coveting.


Hannah made a great deal with me, if I would have the show one day, 10% of anything she sold here would be donated to the “Less Dana, More Good” campaign.   Don’t tell her I would have done it for free.


So I have cooked a bunch of yummy things for all you hungry shoppers who want to stop by anytime tomorrow.  Frittata, zucchini bread and pineapple in the morning.  Smoked salmon pizza, pimento cheese, corn and tomato salad and gazpacho in the afternoon.  I’m sure I’ll need to bake something after lunch.


No appointment necessary.  Breakfast will be served at 8:00 AM.  The best news is that I have plenty of private places you can try clothes on just in case you don’t want to run around my house half naked.

Wedding Hangover

I am hung over.  I’m not talking about the way one feels from enjoying too much bubbly or one too many Bloody Marys, just the bone weary way I feel from packing as much fun as possible into a wedding weekend.


My Georgia native friend Michelle wed her great British love Richard is what was hands down the most spectacular, sweet, surprise filled wedding ever.  Ninety friends and family came from all over the world to eat, drink and be merry as if they were representing their countries in some wedding Olympics.


Not to be outdone I did my fair share of competitive bocce playing, sunset marsh boat riding, low-country-boil eating, new friend making, Cajun dance doing’, getting-to-and-fro bike riding, muscle torture massage getting, “Oh-Happy-Day” gospel choir listening, teenage-son-giving-his-mother-away sobbing, groom kissing the bride watching, great old friend enjoying, cocktail reception hors d’oeuvre eating, lasting memories photo taking, torrential downpours umbrella carrying, luxurious dinner conversating, one bite of wedding cake tasting, surprise fireworks gazing, Sleeping Booty boogying, dessert bar by-passing, dead tired room returning feet-drag walking, farewell brunch partaking, long goodbye hugging, six hour home driving.


After all that you might understand my excitement when we passed a hand painted sign on the side of the road near Bennettsville, South Carolina that read, “Used Body Parts Ahead.”


For more than a moment I thought that I could trade-in my dog-tired feet for a fresher, even if used, pair.  Kind of like buying a retread.  It took me more than a minute to realize the sign was for auto body parts.  They should have said that.  Please tell me I’m not the only one who ever made that mistake.


Whatever damage I did to my diet from eating or body from dancing it was all worth it to witness the joining together and celebrating the love of two fabulous people.

Growing Up and Liking It

As if Russ and I have not had enough great travel already this year, today we are enjoying the best place we have been in a long time, the Inn at Palmetto Bluff.  As I write this I am sitting in an Adirondack chair under the shade of a three hundred year old live oak tree draped in Spanish moss, overlooking the wide expanse of the May river and it’s tidal marsh.

We are here as guests of our great friends Michelle and Richard who are getting married tonight in the darling waterside chapel, an occasion of great celebration.  After yesterday afternoon’s croquet and bocce tournaments and Cajun dance dinner party complete with moan inducing oysters it is hard to imagine how it can get any better, but I am sure it will exceed my wildest imagination for the perfect wedding.

Breakfast this morning was at a place called Buffalo’s where you had your choice of the biscuit bar or other even more fattening items made to order.  When one of the categories of offerings is “Sticky” you know I  had a hard time finding something low calorie to eat.  Russ had the best grits on earth, which I can verify because I had a one orgasmic bite.

Between breakfast and my upcoming massage Russ, my friend Hannah and I rode our cottage assigned one-speed bikes through a good portion of the 20,000-acre property.  Thank goodness for this exercise to help counteract the intake portions of the day.

As we peddled the winding paths through the forest, me in my white linen shirt, hiked-up so as not to catch in the chain, I had a strong flash back to a movie I saw in fourth grade called “Growing Up and Liking it.”

One day, late in the school year the boys were taken from our classroom and sent to another room while the girls remained in our classroom with all the blinds drawn.  Our teacher, Miss Stoelting, turned on the projector to a movie that opened with a girl, much older than our 9 year-old selves, maybe she was 12, riding a one-speed bike in the dappled sunlight wearing a cute white culottes.

The music played and the male announcer started talking about how girls grow up and change… the movie, made by the Kotex company, was all about getting your period.  As fourth graders, we were horrified.  It was all news to us.  We were a test class to see if fourth graders needed to know this information.  We did not.

A soon as the movie was over we all ran to the girl’s room, filling every stall.  I remember pulling my underpants down to see if I was bleeding and calling out to my friends to see if theirs had started, sure that it was eminent because that was why they had showed us the movie.

When we returned to the classroom our upstanding teacher told us to lie to the boys and tell them we had seen a movie about dolls.  Upon their return the boys told us they had seen a movie about cars and we told them our grown-up sanctioned lie.

I so badly wanted to know if the boys really saw a movie about cars, but never had the nerve to ask them.  If you happen to be one of those boys please call and let me know.

Once the shock about the growing-up part subsided my big take away from that movie was that you could still ride your bike when you have your period.  I still laugh about the 1960’s propaganda title, and the fact that the narrator was a man.

During those adolescent years there was no liking growing up.  You just wanted to be grown up. But man, today enjoying another great rite-of-passage, a wedding, I am so glad that I am a grown up and can still ride a bike whenever I want.

“You Must Feel So Much Better”

Many fat and thin friends alike say the same thing to me about losing weight.  “You must feel so much better.”


The answer is actually, “No.”  See, I did not feel badly before.  My knees are good, thanks to not much overuse since childhood.  My big bones are strong and have been highly developed from having to carry my body around all these years.  My hips are fine, not a click or hitch in any of my giddy-up.


My internal numbers are good too.  I have unbelievably low cholesterol and blood pressure.  My only bad number was the one on the scale.


When you feel good to start and lose about 2 pounds a week you don’t really notice the change.  Now if I strapped a forty-pound bag of flour on me and had to run around I am sure I would say it was harder, but I know I could still do it.  I lift much more than 40 pounds at the gym.


I am sure it makes people feel better to look at me, but the view and feel from the inside of me is the same.  I am not discounting the fact that eventually something would give way on my body and I would feel worse, but as of right now I feel the same lighter as I did heavier.


Perhaps if something did hurt I might have not gotten in this position.  All this is to say, even if you feel great it is better for you to be closer to an ideal weight.  You don’t have to wait until you feel bad to lose weight.  That day might not come in time to do anything about it.

Appliance Love

I have always loved appliances.  When I was an adolescent I started asking my parents to give them to me for Christmas.  My thinking was I no longer wanted toys and I was going to need all those appliances someday, why not start collecting them now when my parents were paying.


I think I was eleven when I got a tiny Sony black and white TV.  I never had to leave my room again.  My father learned his lesson from the TV and gave me a sewing machine the next year and on Christmas afternoon brought me four pairs of pants he needed mended.


When I was in college the Weis Market in Carlisle, PA gave out green stamps.  I started saving freshman year, volunteering to do the shopping when my Pi Phi pledge class was having a function.  Eventually I moved off campus and shopped weekly with my roommates pasting the stamps in the little books after every trip to the store.


After three years I had amassed enough green stamps, 62 books, to get the second most expensive thing in the catalogue, a Cuisineart.  Only a canoe took more books.  When I went to the redemption center to turn in my hard licked stamp books the other patrons clapped for me.  The clerk told me I was the first Cuisineart she had ever awarded.  That appliance served me well through 10 years of catering and hundreds of dinner parties.  It was 25 years old before I retired it.


This appliance love might be somewhat genetic because my daughter, Carter likes appliances too.  When she was about six years old the two of us were leaving the mall late in the evening.  I asked her if we could go out through Sears because I wanted to look at the new washer and dryers.


Since we were the only customers in the white goods department we had a number of salesmen descend upon us. I will never forget the starry look in Carter’s eyes when the clerk asked if there was something he could help us with.


At six, she was sure he was talking to her, so she responded in a sing-songy voice, “No thank you, we are just dreaming.”


That salesman must have thought one of two things, that Carter was his ideal life-time customer or that we were too poor to own a washer and spent hours at the laundry mat, otherwise a small child would never dream of a new front loading set.


Today I love my stick blender with it’s 8 different attachments for whisking, chopping – both rough and fine and blending of all sorts.  It is a dieter’s best friend.  I can make smoothies, soups, sauces and purees all without dirtying another bowl, pitcher or appliance.  You just put the stick in the pot of tomatoes sitting on the stove, flick it on and within seconds I have whirled up a soup for dinner.


So in case you do not have the appliance gene, or you are looking for the perfect gift for your mother for Christmas, think of a stick blender and dream of all she will do with it.




My Letter in the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina’s Newsletter, Hunger Beat

I was asked to write a letter for the Food Bank’s Newsletter that just came out.  I thought you might like to know why I am dedicated to the misson of making sure no one goes hungry in Central and Eastern NC.

For me feeding someone is the greatest act of love and I have spent a lifetime feeding many people.  In college I started a catering business that I continued for ten years in Washington DC.  One day I came out of my garage and came face-to-face with a nice man, about my age dressed in a blue blazer and khakis eating food from my garbage can. 


I will never forget the conversation we had that morning in the back alley.  He told me that I had the best food in my garbage and that he really appreciated it.  It was only then that I noticed that his clothes were a little tattered and that he might need a shower.  I told him that I put my garbage out the night before the pick up and to look for separate boxes on top of the can from then on where I would leave safe food for him.


I never saw him again, but I do know that those boxes I left at night were missing the next mornings for as long as I lived there.  That began my interest in helping feed people who are hungry. 


Some years later my friend Rev. Hayward Holderness asked me to join the Advisory Council of the Durham Branch of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina which launched my relationship with this wonderful organization that is a life line to so many North Carolinians.


When I started volunteering ten years ago the Food Bank of CENC provided about 20 million pounds of food in our 34 county service area.  Today we are up to 45 million pounds this past year.  It is a sad situation that the need is growing so quickly, but so many generous people step up and help either with food donations, volunteer hours or funds.


Our mission that no one goes hungry in Central and Eastern North Carolina is huge.  We continue to try and improve the nutritional value of the food we provide and find ways to make good food available to all. 


I am humbled to take the Chair of this organization which is so vital to the over 550,000 people who depend on us for food each year.  The dedicated staff and generous volunteers are tireless in their dedication to ensure that our neighbors do not have to go looking through people’s trash to find something to eat.


Dana Lange

My Salad Bar History

When I was a kid there was a steak house on our town line called Brock’s that my parents would take us to as a very special treat.  One reason we loved it was that they brought that yummy crock of port wine cheese to the table when you sat down and the second was because they had a salad bar.


A salad bar was a new thing back in the 70’s.  In the dark of the restaurant all those little crocks of cut up vegetables nestled in the ice seemed so exciting.  I think it was the fact that we got to pick out things ourselves, that and the house made croutons, a treat we never would have at home.  For the most part the salad bar was a great way to get vegetables into kids.


For the years from age 14-21 a salad bar held no pull for me because both my boarding school and college had mediocre to terrible salad bars.  To this day just smelling those fake bacon bits makes me a little wheezy.

Then salad bars seem to disappear, except at Korean markets in NYC, but since I did not live there I did not cross their path often.


Enter Whole Foods, land of fresh greens in three choices, interesting vegetables like edamame and artichoke hearts as well as a whole 25 feet of prepared salads.  It is like salad bar nirvana.  House made dressings, six kinds of cheeses, quinoa, couscous, and barley salads, both grilled chicken and turkey and beans so many ways that practically every nationality’s favorite is represented.


Many different fruits are even there, all in their own little sections.  If you just want orange supremes, (that’s orange segments cut out of the peal and pith) you can have them or grapes pre-pulled from the stems just waiting to be scooped up.


The salad bar at Whole Foods has become a destination and rightfully so with it’s many tasty offerings all at $7.99 a pound.  The problem now is that there are too many delicious and fattening choices at the salad bar.  It seems the more fattening and yummy the heavier they are.  Take the mayonnaise laden egg salad.  I am sure that one small spoonful weighs in at $3.00 and 300 calories.  I can hardly imagine what the profit margin is on the oh-so-heavy hummus.


To help keep me away from the forbidden pre-made salad offerings I wish that Whole Foods would charge by the calorie count rather than the pound.  If the raw beet shreds were $4.00 a pound and the seafood salad was $8.00 I would be a lot more likely to eat only the raw vegetables and not be tempted by the others.  In my world Whole Foods would pay me to take the celery off their hands in the pay per calorie equation.  But alas, that will never happen.  All that mayonnaise and oil adds not just flavor, but weight, both to the container and to my hips.


So just like a visit to Brock’s, going to the Whole Foods Salad bar needs to be a once in a blue moon occasion because I am just not good at skipping the chicken salad or Mexican corn medley just begging to be sampled and I am never going to take celery, even if it is free.



Roast Cauliflower with Raisins, Pecans and Capers

I love cauliflower, but the rest of my family thinks they do not, so I am always attempting to find ways they might change their minds.  Unfortunately I made the calorie laden cauliflower au gratin once and so that is the high bar mark for a vegetable they would rather not have at all.

Today’s recipe is a much healthier use that also encompasses sweet, tart and salty flavors with a little crunch.

1 head of cauliflower broken into bite size florets

¼ c. golden raisins

2 T. capers drained of brine

2 T. chopped green herbs – I used chives, Italian parsley and thyme because that is what I had in the garden, but you could use any combo you like

2T. Sherry vinegar

Salt and pepper

¼ c. toasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 400º

Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray with pam.  Place the cauliflower in a single layer on the cookie sheet and place in the oven to roast for about 30 minutes it should get a little brown.

Mix everything else except the pecans together in a small bowl and let flavors marry together.

Roughly chop the toasted pecans.

When cauliflower is done.  Place it on a platter and sprinkle the vinegar mixture over it and then the pecans.  Serve.

You can also eat it cold, but save the pecans and put on right before you eat it.

It a Long Weekend- Sleep late

This is no news – the more and better quality sleep you get the better you are at either losing weight or maintaining your healthy weight.  You don’t have to believe me, there are tons of medical articles on the subject.


I am a good sleeper.  I don’t take this for granted.  I come from a family full of bad sleepers and I am also married to one.


As a child my youngest sister Janet had the nickname inside our family of “Mutt.”  She earned this unattractive name not because she was not cute, but because of her nightly sleeping ritual.


Long after everyone in the house had gone to sleep, Janet would drag her red Snoopy sleeping bag from her bed and walk the very long distance from her room down the hall, up the stairs through both the big and the little living rooms and into my parents bedroom.  Silently she would curl up on the sleeping bag at the foot of my parent’s bed, much like a trusted family dog, thus the “Mutt” moniker.


In the night my parent’s bedspread usually fell to the floor covering my sister completely.  My mother was already not sleeping well and my father’s snoring did not help.


My mother’s best sleep came after 4:30 when my father would get up to make his long commute to New York City.  As he would try to silently leave their room he would invariably kick Janet at the foot of the bed, never learning that she was going to be there for many years.


My husband is a broken sleeper too.  He starts in one bed and sleeps for about four hours then wakes up and spends about two or three hours awake and is sometimes able to fall back to sleep, usually in a different place in the house.


I am proof that just being a good sleeper will not make you thin.  Russ, as a bad sleeper is thin so it is not making him fat.  I think it helps that he does not eat when he is awake in the middle of the night.  But if you are sleeping you can’t be eating.  And being tired lowers your defenses against boredom or binge eating.


If you are hungry late at night, go to sleep rather than eat.  It will keep you from eating that night and if you got a good night’s rest it might keep you from over eating the next day.

Weigh In Day

May 13, 2012

Sept. 1, 2012- had to add the belt so you could see the change

Happy September!  I love September, back to school, cooler evenings, both my sister’s birthdays.  Two birthday cakes in the house must have sealed my love of September.

Since I have been off sugar for the last few months I really can say that I am honestly not interested in birthday cake.  As long as I don’t have a bite and send my body back into sugar love.

I was worried that August was going to be a poor weight loss month.  Not because of the heat, but because of the vacation.  Russ took me to the Pacific Northwest and San Francisco for two weeks and we had a fabulous holiday.

But two weeks of living in hotels and eating every meal out had me worried.  I was hoping that if I could just maintain my weight I would be happy.  Especially when I was in Portland.  Russ had planned the whole trip and when we woke up our first morning there I asked him what the Portland plan was.  I kid you not; he looked right at me and said, “We came to Portland for the food.”

I know I made some kind of “What the…” face, then remembered he had started planning this trip long before I planned my weight loss challenge.  We had some of the best food in Portland, so I suggest visiting it for your self.

Thanks to Russ for splitting dishes with me, eating a lot of seafood and hiking, making vacation was a huge success.  My first morning home I got on the scale and I had lost 4 pounds!!

I was lucky that I had been on vacation on the half of the month that I usually lose weight.  I have been a serial dieter enough of my life that I know there are weeks I lose and weeks I don’t even though all the inputs of calories and outputs of exercise are exactly the same.  It is a hormonal fact of life.  Even though I know this sometimes it can be discouraging to work and work and have no tangible scale success.  But I keep persevering because the good week is coming.

So now for the number most people care about…how much weight have I lost in total?  The answer is 40 pounds!  August was a great month, losing 8 pounds.  So the quest continues.  I have until November 1 to lose as much as possible for this challenge.

My goal to raise $1,000 for every pound I lose still stands.  I have pledges for $615.25 as of today.  I want to thank all the people who increased their pledge.  My plea now is that you spread the word for me.  If you enjoy my blog please forward it on to anyone you think might also like it.

If you have not been reading it you missed some funny stories this month and a couple of good recipes.  You can always subscribe to get it on e-mail.  Just visit and on the right hand side halfway down is a place to “Follow blog via e-mail.”  If you read nothing else two popular posts, according to the stats, were “No way to Lose Weight” and “Happy 100 to Julia.”

As always I love to hear from you.  Any requests for recipes that you want me to lighten up or comments about stories are welcome.  I like two-way conversations and blogging is a little too one way for me.  Even if you just send me a “ha-ha” I love to know you are out there.